Can I use your restroom?

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    Subject 1: Can I use your restroom I need to go badly.

    Counter person: Reserved for paying customers only..

    Subject 1: I’m waiting for the bus outside and can’t hold it..

    Counter person: See the sign.. Customers only!

    Subject 1: Pissssss all over the floor police called. She pees on herself, in the business and misses her bus and gets a ticket from the police.

    I left, didn’t bother to order nor didn’t want to get in involved.. Don’t blame me

    True story. Just happened this morning at…. Should I name the business? I was waiting behind her for my coffee. What kind of society are we living in today?



    Actually, there is a Federal Law passed fairly recently that REQUIRES business owners to ALLOW access to even “private” restrooms if requested.



    Jiggers, I would advise you to pass this info along to the “business in question.”



    Evidently applies to WA as well. I think I may see a lawsuit waiting to happen :)




    Hellz, yeah! Name the bizniz.

    Or give us the X-streets; we’ll figure it out on our own.

    BTZ: You into Hawaiian bands? “Rainbow of Hawai’i” is gonna be playing free at Providence Mt. St. V on the 24th. I’m not that big on ’em myself. Kind of like the musical equivalent of Valium. On the other hand, doesn’t Valium have several essential nutrients in it? Someone told me that.


    Betty T

    Wonder if the Hawaiian group is the group of seniors that plays around west Seattle. I may go as its the last one for this summer series.



    That is so sad. I have been in this situation with a small child who needs to go before and thankfully have not been turned away. I can understand not wanting every person off the street to use your restroom, but maybe you would actually gain some customers by showing a little humanity in this type of situation. Certainly, the mess and embarrassment for all involved could’ve been avoided if there had been a little more empathy offered to this poor lady in the first place.



    Kevin — what you posted are state of Illinois laws; there is no equivalent federal law that I am aware of, altho it has been argued that the Americans with Disabilities Act ‘reasonable modification’ requirement should be interpreted to allow individuals with disabilities to use employee restrooms when the need is urgent. For more info:

    However, the WA State legislature passed a ‘restroom access’ law recently. If you think this law may apply to you, please note that:

    a) it applies only to persons with medical conditions that require immediate access to a restroom, AND

    b) that person must present medical documentation of the need to use the restroom, AND

    c) that person must be a legitimate customer of a qualifying retail facility.

    There are restrictions on what is considered a retail facility and access may still be refused under some conditions.

    (edited for clarity)



    i wouldn’t patronize any business that called the cops on a person who had an accident on the floor after being denied access to a restroom.

    and if it’s a chain.. i wouldn’t patronize any chain with that policy.


    me on 28th Ave SW

    I agree JoB; I find the whole cop/ticket thing bizarre. Cruel even. I would guess most of us have been within a minute of that potential embarrassment at least once in our lives.



    @metrognome – Fortunately, I have never had to play this card, but there was a time way back when I knew the location of almost every “public” restroom in Seattle :) And I realize there are “exceptions” to the existing law.

    Thanks for the reference to to the WA statute.



    Wow, that is absolutely terrible. How incredibly embarassing for that woman. I know a lot of women, when they have to go they have to go now. And I’ve seen those signs posted all over the place “Restrooms for customers only” that is just ridiculous. I absolutely would not patronize any business that was so heartless.



    Kevin — not a problem; I followed this type of issue for years as part of my job. The qualification about exceptions was for everyone, since the regulation was too long to post here.

    While I empathize with the woman in the incident Jiggers described, small business owners do have legitimate issues about non-employees using their restroom. For every horror story like this, there have been situations where employees’ belongings or other valuables are stolen, etc. The limitations in the WA statute give you a good idea about the kinds of that can happen.



    Name ’em.



    read the statute.



    This is a terrible story and wish it didn’t happen.

    I do have to speak up for the other side though and hope you understand or offer suggestions for improvement.

    For about the first three years we were in business we had a “public” restroom. There were the obvious, common annoyances: graffiti galore, (including carvings, racial slurs and gang tags), theft of anything not nailed down, insane waste of toilet paper and paper towels, disgusting messes left in/on the toilet, toilet stuffed with paper towels to where we had to call a plumber twice, and some things I’m sure I’ve blocked out. And I guess it’s just part of the cost of business to have to also pay $12/hour to clean it all up while customers are waiting for food service, but we decided to draw the line when we not only suspected re-occurring drug use in the bathroom but had to actually call 911 to have a passed out heroin addict pulled out with needles and other paraphanalia strewn about for everyone’s viewing pleasure. I employ a lot of teenagers and I just don’t feel like it’s something I want them to deal with. Please try and understand. I know that customers can do damage as well and likely have, but at least we can filter in this small way.

    Now, having said that, I want to also teach compassion and tell them that if there is a child or pregnant woman involved to let them use it but being discerning is not always easy either.

    Again, it’s a tough one, but I hope this helps you understand and not be so quick to protest against those of us who have this rule.


    The Velvet Bulldog

    My M.O. in emergency situations: choose a fast-food restaurant like McDonald’s or Burger or Taco Time. Or, a large store such as a grocery store, Target, Fred Meyer, Barnes & Noble or a department store. Also, any public buildings like libraries will have them. They all have people coming and going and aren’t paying attention to who is going into the restroom.

    Obviously, if one of those wasn’t available, at least the woman asked somewhere–the next best remedy. I suppose she could have said she’d buy something on the way out??

    I’ve worked in places with public restrooms and yeah, it can be incredibly nasty, or just alarming as it seems like a number of people go into restrooms to pass out for one reason or another.

    Gotta say though, I’m incredibly grateful for those restrooms when out and about!!



    There are numerous medical conditions that might make immediate access to a restroom a necessity: IBS, diverticulitis, cancer, etc., etc. Who carries their medical records with them? The idea of handing over private medical records to some clerk for judgment as to whether or not someone may urgently use a bathroom is absurd. Doctors do not issue “must use bathroom” letters for people to carry around like golden tickets, and they would not be honored anyway.

    I fully understand the issues around allowing public use of restrooms, but as long as there is no provision for true “public” restrooms, there must be a better solution available than forcing people to soil themselves in public. Then, if that weren’t punishment enough, have the police come and ticket them for it.



    Jiggers – please either post the business or cross streets. This is a shame and it’s really sad they were so cold hearted to actually call the police!



    i often need to find a restroom immediately

    fortunately, the clerks i have asked have always been accommodating

    but then i am pretty sure i look like i am in distress

    the mention of irritable bowel syndrome usually prompts “we aren’t supposed to do this .. but..”

    there is nothing less conducive to business than an accident of any kind on the floor…

    if any establishment i visit refuses me access to a restroom when i have an urgent need.. i simply don’t go there again.

    i can’t risk shopping where i don’t have access

    it’s that simple

    i understand a businesses legitimate concerns about drug trafficking and vandalism.. i do

    but i also know that it’s not an easy thing to find a restroom when an urgent need arises

    compassion goes a long way towards getting and keeping customers



    I would also love to know the name of the establishment. However, in fairness, the employee may have simply used poor judgement to the horror of the owners. I suggest you contact the management and post their response. If they respond positively then I don’t see a problem naming them. If they respond negatively, then you’ve given them a chance and then posting their name is a public service…



    I depend a lot on where the business is too. Pioneer Square or West Seattle. Pike Place market eewww!!! I was told by one business owner, he closed off his restrooms to the public when the city put a metro bus stop in front of his business… his tolerance dropped when he became a de facto “public” restroom.



    this might help…and there’s mobile apps…

    type in the zip code, like 98116…map comes up with locations of public bathrooms, some with reviews…



    Thanks for the notice that Giannoni’s Pizza does not have public restrooms. I will never knowingly patronize a place that sells food but does not have a public restroom. I DON”T CARE if you have one for paying patrons and employees.

    Even as redneck a place as NC had a law (when I was supervising convenience stores and deli’s), that REQUIRED anyplace that sold ready to eat food, coffee or fountain drinks to provide a restroom open to the public. In our urban stores we built restrooms with exterior steel doors that required a key. Key was attached to something the size and weight of an iron. Employees had their own restroom inside.



    what we need are more public restrooms…



    I agree, this whole situation is reprehensible.

    The flip side? I worked in a business in Sea-Tac where the building had changed hands many times, from a warehouse to a retail store. There was one bathroom, located at the back of the stock room. In order to allow a member of the public (paying or not) to use our restroom, we had to have an employee escort the person through the stockroom to the bathroom, then await the patron’s exit from the bathroom and escort them back up front.

    Some businesses are just not set up to have a public bathroom. We tried to accommodate as much as we could, and kids were ALWAYS accommodated, but I understand businesses cannot always do this. We were also on the bus route, and this made us a ‘de facto’ public restroom as well. That, and change machine.

    I can’t believe the cop actually wrote the woman a ticket – couldn’t she at least get a ‘warning’ and be allowed to go and clean herself up?



    I’m sorry, Ken, that you will not consider patronizing my business – if I have learned one thing over the last 5 years it’s that I will never please everyone.

    I am also sorry though, that you will miss out on so many other businesses as well. As I walked up and down 16th Ave in Downtown White Center today I counted 13 signs on doors that stated, “No Public Restroom” or the like.

    I agree that this was a horrible event. I agree that there needs to be more public restroom access. In fact, it has come up a number of times in property management meetings that Westwood Village needs to have public restrooms, which obviously, the merchants are all in favor of. Bottom line is that we do what we can in our individual situations, and hope that there are compassionate people and folks who are understanding from every perspective!

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